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Are Sub-Lets Helping or Hurting Your Property?

Anyone who has worked in student housing understands the hassle of managing and dealing with sub-lets. Frowned upon by Leasing Managers, Property Managers, all the way up to the regional and corporate levels, having residents sub-let from your property can only mean one thing, right? Residents aren’t satisfied with their experience at your property. Actually, this isn’t the case. While many sub-lets do stem from negative scenarios, many also stem from uncontrollable circumstances. Students looking to transfer schools, family emergencies, and academic dismissals are just a few examples that go beyond your property’s customer service that force your tenants to try and get out of their lease. How are sub-lets traditionally they handled?


“It’s your responsibility to find someone to take over your lease and you’re responsible for rent until you do.”


Many properties try to be as hands-off as possible when dealing with sub-lets and others go as far as to deter and make sub-letting as difficult as possible. No follow-up calls to replacement tenants, massive sub-let fees, and even trying to persuade replacement tenants to sign a new lease, with move-in specials. While all this may help your property in the short-run with maintaining and driving your current occupancy up; mishandling sub-lets can be detrimental to your property in the long run. Reputation and brand management are the most important factors in generating new leads and driving traffic to your property. Word-of-mouth reputation, online reviews, and social media platforms all suffer from the hands-off/no sub-letting mindset. No one wants to lease at an apartment that will try to keep him or her in their lease when they need to move back home to tend to a family emergency or transfer schools to better their education. Sub-lets will ALWAYS be a part of your property, regardless of how great your customer service may be.


It can be difficult to picture sub-letting in a positive connotation but the reality is, it can be a great tool in taking your property’s customer service above and beyond all of your comps. Showing your tenants that you care, life events happen, and that unforeseen circumstances come up and you're willing to assist them along life’s journey. This not only shows that you care, it helps your property's brand and reputation. Following-up with replacement prospects and pushing urgency to get them to sign. Many community assistants, resident specialists, and leasing specialists are taught not to worry about calling, emailing or trying to get in contact with replacement prospect as it should be the resident’s responsibility. Allowing replacement tenants to move-into an apartment “as-is” instead of waiting the standard 5-7 business days to turn the apartment. Many sub-lets fail to work because of lack of flexibility with move-in times and dates. Massive sub-let fees are also one of the biggest factors that keep tenants from being able to complete the process. Sub-let fees range from $200 all the way up to 85% of one months rent. What do the fees cover? Many property managers claim that the sub-let fee will cover any damages to the unit, any cleaning fees to the unit, and even processing the screening of the replacement prospect. Security deposits, final move-out statements, and application fees are just a few examples of how properties assure some of those fees are taken care of, at the resident’s expense WITHOUT the sub-let fee. The reality is, these sub-let fees are roughly just inconvenience fees that are charged to the resident for going through the sub-let process. By making sure sub-let fees are reasonable and fair, you can help your residents tremendously by not holding them back with financially burdening fees.


While the list goes on and on, we hope we have painted a picture for you and shown how sub-letting goes beyond your property’s brand and customer service. It’s time to stop viewing sub-lets in a negative connotation and start using the process to your property’s advantage and at the same time, look out for your resident’s best interests.

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Lion Group Management L.L.C.